Things They Carried: Five Ideas for Guides

Many fly fishing guides have their game down so well that they never think it can be improved upon.  They have their regular sports who apparently accept all their gurus’ quirks.  Many others have yet to figure out that quirks are often not viewed as such if the client feels peripheral to a guide’s focus.  Take the following for what you will.

Bring a thermos full of something, especially on a cold day.  Coffee is kind of a no brainer, but imagine your client’s reaction after a tough and hand blowing morning when you pull out a thermos full of soup or stew.  If nothing else, it will put everyone in a good enough mood to enjoy some scenery.  A little fire might do the same.

Carry extra sunglasses, a ballcap, and sunscreen.

Clean your car.  A ratty old vehicle is viewed by some guides, and even some clients, as required equipment for a legitimate guiding career.  I’m guilty of not spiffing up my ride, but I’m aware that it may cost me some tips.  Clients basically like to see fishing things – mountains, rivers, sunsets.  Just because they also like looking at aquatic insects doesn’t mean they enjoy seeing their insides sprayed across your windshield.

Bring your dog with you.  Everyone loves dogs, especially dogs that like to run around your feet while you’re rigging up, ones that lurk around your lunch and pant in the backseat while you’re trying to talk to your client.  NOT!  Anything that howsoever remotely threatens your attention towards a paying customer should not be part of the day.  I had a guide once whose dogs ran alongside the boat, far out of harm’s way, for the entire day.  That was a wonderful experience, but it was unique. Leave your dog at home.

Remember your positive attitude.  This seems obvious, but apparently it isn’t. Especially on the tough days, a customer needs to be reminded that the guide is playing for the same team as he or she is.  Break off a fish?  So what.  Can’t cast right?  You will.  Empathy and support go a long way, especially on a long day.

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